On Friday, May 27, leaders from historically black colleges (HBCUs) and organizations which support them gathered in Washington, DC at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for a panel discussion entitled, “Historically black colleges and the road ahead.”
AEI Resident Fellow and former President of Black Alliance for Educational Options in the United States, Gerard Robinson, moderated the discussion. Robinson, a Howard University alum, led the panel with a simple question, “…where would America be without HBCUs.” Participants on the panel were Lezli Baskerville, President and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO);Michael Lomax, President of the United Negro College Fund; Johnny Taylor, Jr., President of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Beverly Wade Hogan, President of Tougaloo College, respectively.
“For over 150 years, HBCU’s have played an important part on the higher education landscape,” stated Robinson in his opening remarks. The panel’s discussion was focused on how to continue the impact of HBCUs for future generations through funding increases, boosting enrollment, partnerships with the private and government sectors for employment opportunities for students after graduation, faculty development, and technology advancements.
Johnny Taylor argued that he and leaders at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund were “hopeful but not optimistic” about the future of HBCUs while announcing partnerships that he was currently making with companies such as Apple which granted 47 million dollars to HBCUs and organizations such as Taylor’s in exchange for 20 engineers yearly from their institutions. In the first year, they sent 33 and plan on sending over 40 in this upcoming year. Additionally, Taylor has partnered with the Charles Koch Foundation to provide 26 million dollars as well as research and solutions on issues surrounding potential students at HBCUs, such as K-12 education reform, criminal justice reform, and entrepreneurship.
Beverly Hogan and Lezli Baskerville announced bold plans that their organizations are taking to bridge the gap between industry and education by working to enrich faculty through collaborations with other universities and immersion opportunities for faculty with private sector and government organizations to learn the skillset that students need to be competitive in the workforce. Hogan speaking of Tugaloo University said, “We’re a small college with a large impact with faculty and students as the core of our education system.”
“By 2025, all new education will require some post-secondary training,” said Michael Lomax making the issue of continuing growth among HBCUs through a variety of means, including competition and business partnerships more important.
There are 106 HBCUs in the United States, according to Robinson. At least 40 percent of African-Americans in science graduated from HBCUs, according to Baskerville.